When Samuel and Harriet Freeman visited Hollyhock House, a Los Angeles home that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, they knew they wanted to live in one like it. They ponied up $10,000 (which eventually swelled to more than double that) and commissioned Wright to build them a house in the Hollywood Hills.
For this project, Wright tried something a little different. The so-called Samuel Freeman house is made from 12,000 concrete bricks, which incorporated sand from the hillside sloping down below it. These are assembled in the “textile block” style, which evokes the appearance of quilted stone.
This one went up in 1924. Around the same time, Wright designed three others in this style across Los Angeles. Many of the blocks are imprinted with distinctive shapes—though scholars haven’t agreed on exactly what they are. (Some think the ones on the Freeman House look like daffodils.)
When the Freemans moved out, more than 60 years later, they entrusted the home to the University of Southern California School of Architecture. The school’s preservationists had their work cut out for them. In addition to existing wear and tear, the home sustained earthquake damage in 1994. Progress toward repairing it and insulating the structure against future rumbles has been somewhat fitful, and the home is currently closed to the public.
Still, there’s plenty to appreciate from the outside. Look for the ways that the colors play against the cacti and canyons, and go ahead and dream of calling this place home.
Know Before You Go
Stick to admiring the house from the outside. Don't ring the doorbell or try to enter.